Temperature-dependent stock-recruitment model for walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) around northern Japan
Changes in fish year-class strength have been attributed to year-to-year variability in environmental conditions and spawning stock biomass (SSB). In particular, sea temperature has been shown to be linked to fish recruitment. In the present study, I examined the relationship between sea surface temperature (SST), SSB and recruitment for two stocks of walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) around northern Japan [Japanese Pacific stock (JPS) and northern Japan Sea stock (JSS)] using a temperature-dependent stock-recruitment model (TDSRM). The recruitment fluctuation of JPS was successfully reproduced by the TDSRM with February and April SSTs, and February SST was a better environmental predictor than April SST. In addition, the JPS recruitment was positively related to February SST and negatively to April SST. The JSS recruitment modeled by the TDSRM incorporating February SST was also consistent with the observation, whereas the relationship between recruitment and February SST was negative, that is the opposite trend to JPS. These findings suggest that SST in February is important as a predictor of recruitment for both stocks, and that higher and lower SSTs in February act favorably on the recruitment of JPS and JSS respectively. Furthermore, Ricker-type TDSRM was not selected for either of the stocks, suggesting that the strong density-dependent effect as in the Ricker model does not exist for JPS and JSS. I formulate hypotheses to explain the links between SST and recruitment, and note that these relationships should be considered in any future attempts to understand the recruitment dynamics of JPS and JSS.